Sports betting. It has gotten more and more popular with the last few years with the sports betting market on the rise. 

It was worth $76 billion in 2021 and by 2029, it is expected to be worth $167 billion. 

If you are new to online sports betting, you need to start getting familiar with all of the different types of bets that you can make. One of those bets is the point spread of a game. 

How does a point spread work in sports betting? Why is this the best type of bet for you? 

This is your guide on the point spread. 

How Does a Point Spread Work?

Before we can go over all of the pros and cons to point spread bets, you need to understand what it is. Basically, point spread bets are bets that you can make on a more specific outcome of a game. 

Essentially, you have the option to bet on a team to win by more than a certain amount of points or bet on a team to lose by less than a certain amount of points. The idea with this is to give a bettor more options and to make it a little more challenging to pick certain games. 

For example, in football, say the New York Giants are favorites by seven and a half points over the Philadelphia Eagles at home. Here, you are either betting on the Giants to win the game by more than seven points or you are betting on the Eagles to lose the game by less than eight points. 

Point Spreads vs. Moneyline 

The other type of bet that a lot of people like to make is a moneyline bet. Moneyline bets are when you are betting on a team to win the game outright. 

Let’s use the example above to compare the types of bets that you can make on a game. With the Giants being favored by 7.5 points over the Eagles, you may be tempted to go with a different play and pick the moneyline on one of these teams. 

In this example, let’s say that the Giants have a -350 moneyline and the Eagles have a +250. That means that you have to bet $350 on the Giants to win $100 and you can win $250 by betting $100 on the Eagles. 

So, the moneyline can be a lot more volatile when it comes to picking certain teams to win a game outright. With point spreads, you generally know the return that you are going to get with every game that you can pick, at least in sports like football and basketball with more points scored. 

Sometimes, a bettor may feel safer betting the moneyline in sports where scoring comes at a premium. Perfect examples of this are hockey and soccer. 

If NYCFC have a 1.5-goal spread against the Chicago Fire, then you are betting on them winning by two goals. There may not even be two goals scored in a soccer game. 

Advantages of Point Spreads 

What is the benefit of betting on a point spread in a game over betting on the moneyline? Well, it can be a cheaper way to bet on games in sports that have more points scored. 

Some of the biggest cases of this are in football and basketball. If you have a game where one team is a heavy favorite to win a game, it is going to be tough to get a good moneyline on that team.

Generally, you do not want to be betting on crazy favorite odds such as a team having -400 to win the game outright. The reason for this is that in the event of an upset, you lose that entire amount rather than just $100. 

Point spreads can give you more room for error in these situations because you would have to lose three bets like that to match one loss on a heavy moneyline favorite. 

On the opposite side of the coin, if you want to make a little more money betting on a sport where scoring comes at a premium, point spreads can be the way to go. 

Let’s use baseball as an example. There are fewer runs scored in these games than points in football and basketball, so the spreads are smaller here. 

The New York Mets can be favorites by 1.5 runs against the Philadelphia Phillies. This would be a situation where you could make more profit by betting the favorite on a points spread. 

Disadvantages of Point Spreads 

While there are benefits to betting on point spreads, it is not always the right decision to do so. One of the examples of when it can be a bad financial move to do so is if you bet on the underdog listed above. 

The Phillies are underdogs by 1.5 runs against the Mets. However, if you want to take that run spread, you may have to bet $160 to win just $100. 

You can see other examples of baseball lines in this link:

This type of spread essentially makes betting on any underdog that is getting points to be a questionable bet because of the limited return that you are getting out of it. 

In sports with more scoring like football and basketball, the disadvantages are a little different. Here, the main con is that you are missing out on a big payday if one of the big underdogs goes on to win the game outright. 

Let’s use a recent college football game as an example. Appalachian State went on the road to face Texas A&M. 

They were 17.5-point underdogs in that game, so that was clearly the safer bet than the moneyline. 

Appalachian State won the game and their moneyline was +640. So, you could have turned $100 into $640. 

Learn More About Sports Betting 

This article should answer the question of “how does a point spread work?” Here, you should have a much better idea of when you should bet on point spreads and when you should stay away from these. 

For more relevant information, check out our other Sports articles.